Qualcomm has revealed its latest chipset, the Snapdragon 850, aiming to bring all-day battery life and always-on connectivity to a new range of Windows 10 notebooks and 2-in-1s. Announced at Computex 2018, the new chipset follows the Snapdragon 845 and its predecessor the Snapdragon 835, themselves already finding their way into Windows 10 on ARM notebooks and convertibles.
For 2018’s flagship chipset, then, it’s more of what makes Windows 10 on ARM so appealing: battery life and connectivity. In fact, Qualcomm is promising more than twenty hours of battery life – there’s even the suggestion of as long as 25 hours in total – even with always-on Gigabit LTE for freedom from hunting down WiFi networks.
The latter comes courtesy of the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem, itself having some significant improvements over Qualcomm’s earlier LTE modems. Most conspicuously, there’s support for combining as little as 10 MHz of licensed spectrum with LAA, which the chip-maker says will make Gigabit LTE a possibility for 90-percent of operators to deploy. With a Cat 18 connection, Qualcomm suggests, you could download a 50 MB file in just ten seconds.
As for the processing and graphics hardware, there there’ll be improvements over the Snapdragon 835 we’ve seen shipping in Windows on ARM machines, too. That means 4K Ultra HD capture and playback support, with a 30-percent improvement in CPU performance when paired with the Windows 10 April 2018 update from the step up from 2.6 GHz Kryo 280 CPU to the 850’s 2.95 GHz Kryo 385. There’s also a 30-percent increase in graphics performance from the Adreno 630, which is paired with the Hexagon 685 vector processor too.
There’s also the Spectra 280 ISP, along with Aqstic and aptX HD audio. That means virtual surround sound via the 3.5mm jack or USB Type-C audio.
One of Qualcomm’s big pushes with the Snapdragon 850, though, will be the growth of artificial intelligence and smart assistant technologies. In Microsoft’s case that will particularly focus on Cortana, though developers will be able to tap into chip level processing for their own machine learning requirements. That’s all in a machine that will be thinner and lighter than Intel and AMD powered alternatives, not to mention fanless.
We’ll see the first Windows 10 on ARM devices built on the Snapdragon 850 hitting the market later in 2018. No word on what sort of pricing we might expect, but Qualcomm has already confirmed that it’s working with Samsung on at least one design.